Map of Blue Book Balloon

13 December 2020

#Review - Signal by Michael Walters

Cover photography
by Nicholas Royle
Design by

Michael Walters
Nightjar Press, October 2020
Available as: PB, 16pp
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
ISBN: 9781907341465

I'm grateful to Nightjar Press for a signed copy of Signal to consider for review, together with other short stories published alongside it. 

Signal is a haunting walk through a nighttime city by a lonely and anxious young woman. We meet Kate passing Meridian House on her way home from work. Kate likes to imagine friendships with the people she glimpses through the lit windows, but they're not there on this Saturday night, Christmas Eve Eve.

Kate is anxious: about money (she may have no shifts in the New Year), about her parents, who have unexpectedly turned religious. She's missing her sister (we will learn more about that). Walters deftly portrays Kate as a loner, an outsider, slightly ill at ease even in her shared house - and slipping out for a night walk as soon as she can.

What happens then - well, there are unexpected corners of every town, unexpected aspects in all of us. As Kate walks, pondering her life and her past, she feels somebody or something is reaching out for her. Sending her messages, perhaps? Signals? Her walk somehow transcends that inside-outside division, bringing her into the orbit of strange events, other peoples' stories.

The story is poised on the cusp between the everyday - that town in the desperate days before Christmas, the realties of work in the 21st century, a cheerless family situation - and the fantastical - the naked man waving from a window, the strange odyssey that Kate undertakes across town, the feeling that somebody is pulling strings. 

Perfectly captured, this book seems to bring us to a moment when - something - happens, or not. Then leaves us to speculate on just what, on what was real and what wasn't. It's a gorgeous story. The book itself is also attractively designed and the series overall one I'd strongly recommend. 

For more information about Signal and to order a copy, please see the Nightjar Press website here.

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